Home » Business Immigration and Global Mobility: Recent Changes and What You Need to Know

Business Immigration and Global Mobility: Recent Changes and What You Need to Know

May 3, 2022,
Michelle Lee,

When it comes to business immigration, change really is the only constant.

At Truth Legal, our Immigration Team has become adept at navigating the choppy waters of sponsorship and the Skilled Worker route, both of which were overhauled in December 2020.  We’re also seaworthy when it comes to alternative business routes, like Global Talent visas and the recently closed Investor route.

April 2022 has brought a new challenge: the freshly introduced Global Mobility route, featuring the Senior or Specialist Worker, secondments and trainees, and the intriguingly named UK Expansion Worker.

Global Business Mobility is the latest in a series of sea-changes to hit UK business immigration.  We continue to ride these waves, in the knowledge that smooth seas never made good sailors!

Here for the short read?  You can find summaries of each sub-route in the tables below.

And you can find the Truth Legal verdict at the bottom of this page.

As always, get in touch if we can help with this or any other immigration matter, business or personal.

What’s new?

The Global Business Mobility route gives businesses five pathways to move staff to the UK on a temporary basis:

  1. Senior or Specialist Worker
  2. UK Expansion Worker
  3. Graduate Trainee
  4. Secondment Worker
  5. Service Supplier

 

1. Senior or Specialist Worker

Purpose: Designed for employers wanting to transfer highly skilled (and highly paid) workers to a UK branch.
Eligibility: The employer must have a sponsor licence.  This at least is nothing new, and we’ve written and advised extensively on the subject.

The worker must be an existing employee, performing a role that’s on the list of eligible occupations, and being paid at least £42,400 per year.

Key features: Cost: the employer must pay the costs associated with sponsorship.  The worker must pay an application fee as follows:

Applying from within the UK:

·         Visa <3 years: £625

·         Visa 3+ years: 1,235

Applying from outside the UK:

·         Visa <3 years: £719

·         Visa 3+ years: £1,423

The worker must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge, set at £624 for each year of the visa.  The worker may have to prove that they can financially support themselves once in the UK.

Quick decision: the Home Office promises three weeks for applications made outside the UK and eight weeks for those made in the UK.

Switching: is possible from some routes, not all.

Duration: five years in the first instance.  There are options to extend up to a maximum total stay, the length of which depends on the worker’s salary.

Dependants: the worker can bring their partner and children.

Settlement: this route does not lead to eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain, unless the worker can switch into a different route which does, such as Skilled Worker.

 

2. UK Expansion Worker

Purpose: Allows a worker to come to the UK to set up a branch of an overseas business which is not yet trading in the UK.
Eligibility: The employer must have a sponsor licence.  This at least is nothing new, and we’ve written and advised extensively on the subject.

The worker must have worked for the sponsoring employer outside the UK, in a job on the list of eligible occupations, being paid the minimum salary required for that job.

Key features: Cost: the employer must pay the costs associated with sponsorship.  The worker must pay a relatively low application fee of £259, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge, set at £624 for each year of the visa.  The worker may have to prove that they can financially support themselves once in the UK.

Quick decision: the Home Office promises three weeks for applications made outside the UK and eight weeks for those made in the UK.

Switching: is possible from some routes, not all.

Duration: 12 months in the first instance, with the possibility to extend by another 12 months up to a maximum total stay of two years.  Further limitations apply if the worker has already spent time in the UK on another visa, and two years seems to be a hard limit.

Dependants: the worker can bring their partner and children.

Settlement: this route does not lead to eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain, unless the worker can switch into a different route which does, such as Skilled Worker.

 

3. Graduate Trainee

Purpose: Designed for employers wanting to move graduate employees to a branch in the UK for their training.
Eligibility: The employer must have a sponsor licence.  This at least is nothing new, and we’ve written and advised extensively on the subject.

The worker must have worked for the sponsoring employer outside the UK for at least three months, in a job on the list of eligible occupations, on a graduate training programme, being paid at least £23,100 per year.

Key features: Cost: the employer must pay the costs associated with sponsorship.  The worker must pay a relatively low application fee of £259, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge, set at £624 for each year of the visa.  The worker may have to prove that they can financially support themselves once in the UK.

Quick decision: the Home Office promises a decision within three weeks.

Switching: is not permitted.  A worker can only apply for the Graduate Trainee visa from outside the UK.

Duration: 12 months in the first instance.  A worker cannot extend, but they can leave the UK and apply for another Graduate Trainee visa.

Dependants: the worker can bring their partner and children.

Settlement: this route does not lead to eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain, unless the worker can switch into a different route which does, such as Skilled Worker.

 

4. Secondment Worker

Purpose: Designed for employers wishing to send staff on a secondment to a different organisation based in the UK.
Eligibility: The overseas employer must have a high-value (£50m+) contract with the UK organisation to which the worker will be seconded.

The UK organisation must have a sponsor licence.  This at least is nothing new, and we’ve written and advised extensively on the subject.

The worker must have worked for the employer outside the UK for at least 12 months, in a job on the list of eligible occupations.  There aren’t any minimum salary requirements, but the employer must pay at least minimum wage.

Key features: Cost: the UK organisation to which the worker is seconded must pay the costs associated with sponsorship.  The worker must pay a relatively low application fee of £259, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge, set at £624 for each year of the visa.  The worker may have to prove that they can financially support themselves once in the UK.

Quick decision: the Home Office promises three weeks for applications made outside the UK and eight weeks for those made in the UK.

Switching: is possible from some routes, not all.

Duration: 12 months in the first instance, with the possibility to extend by another 12 months up to a maximum total stay of two years.  Further limitations apply if the worker has already spent time in the UK on another visa, and two years seems to be the firm limit.

Dependants: the worker can bring their partner and children.

Settlement: this route does not lead to eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain, unless the worker can switch into a different route which does, such as Skilled Worker.

 

5. Service Supplier

Purpose: Allows those with a contract to provide services for a UK company to come to the UK to provide those services.
Eligibility: The overseas employer must have a contract with a UK company, which is covered by a valid international trade agreement.

The UK company must have a sponsor licence.  This at least is nothing new, and we’ve written and advised extensively on the subject.

The worker must have worked for the employer outside the UK for at least 12 months, or if self-employed, must have at least 12 months’ professional experience.  The worker must be performing a job role on the list of eligible occupations.

Key features: Cost: the UK organisation to which the worker is seconded must pay the costs associated with sponsorship.  The worker must pay a relatively low application fee of £259, plus the Immigration Health Surcharge, set at £624 for each year of the visa.  The worker may have to prove that they can financially support themselves once in the UK.

Quick decision: the Home Office promises three weeks for applications made outside the UK and eight weeks for those made in the UK.

Switching: is possible from some routes, not all.

Duration: six months or 12 months, depending on the nature of the trade agreement under which services are provided.  As with other Global Business Mobility routes, this is a firm limit.

Dependants: the worker can bring their partner and children.

Settlement: this route does not lead to eligibility for Indefinite Leave to Remain, unless the worker can switch into a different route which does, such as Skilled Worker.

 

The Truth Legal Verdict

With its glossy name and target audience of highly skilled migrants, the Global Business Mobility regime is firmly on-brand for this Government’s approach to UK migration.  It feels like another attempt by the Johnson administration to be remembered for something other than covid and illegal partying, nice try.

As a matter of presentation, we agree that Global Business Mobility looks good.  Further, there appear to be more options for businesses which don’t yet have a UK presence, something which has arguably been lacking in previous regimes.  And the new routes are generally a bit cheaper than the old regime, which will be a welcome change for applicants.

However, look a bit closer and you’ll see that it’s not all new.  Senior Workers, Specialist Workers and Graduate Trainees were all formerly catered for by the Intra-Company Transfer route, on almost identical terms to Global Business Mobility.

Similarly, the UK Expansion Worker is a rebrand of what was formerly known, less glamorously, as the Sole Representative of an Overseas Business.  The shiny new title actually obscures harsher terms: a Sole Representative could work towards settlement in the UK without switching routes, but a UK Expansion Worker will need to find another route if they want to keep themselves, and potentially a partner and children, in the UK beyond two years.

Behind the shiny new branding, the Government’s message to migrants remains unchanged: we want your skills, but the clock is ticking.

If you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in this blog, or any other immigration matters (business or personal), please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

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